October 30, 2013
Petronila Raimundo is a witness to the huge change that the Honduran education system has experienced in the last year. Five of Raimundo’s children have graduated from Presentacion Centeno public school in San Pedro Sula in Honduras, and a sixth daughter will graduate in December. She notes with surprise, “This year the students didn’t miss any class, and I can tell that my daughter learned more.” 
Raimundo is referring to the fact that for the first time in over a decade, Honduras has achieved the 200 days of class required by law.
This achievement has been a long time coming. Three years ago, the Association for a More Just Society and its partners formed the anti-corruption coalition Transformemos Honduras (Let’s Transform Honduras or TH) to improve the Honduran education system, which is one of the most highly funded in the Americas, but the worst-performing. In the last ten years, Honduran teachers only taught an average of 125 days a year, instead of the 200 required by law.
TH staff investigated corruption and negligence in Honduran education, found volunteers across the country to visit 400 schools on a daily basis to see if teachers were in class, and pressured the government to name better leaders for the education department.
Thanks in part to TH’s advocacy, early last year, the Honduran president fired the current Minister of Education and put a new one named Marlon Escoto in his place. He has been completely open to working with TH to improve education in Honduras.
Escoto threatened sanctions if teachers abandoned their classrooms, and with the support of TH, applied the first-ever nationwide standardized test for students. These sanctions and a desire by teachers to improve student test scores were both major motivators for teachers to teach 200 days this year.
According to the president of TH, Carlos Hernández, these achievements, “show that more and more Hondurans understand the importance of education, and are acting concretely to improve its quality.”
Looking forward, TH will continue to pressure government officials and teachers to make 200 days of class each year the norm. TH will also push to improve education quality by assuring that textbooks are in use and by continuing to test teacher and student improvement.
Marlon Escoto concludes, “The most benefited are the children of Honduras. Parents have hope that their children will have a better future.”